ZO Skin Health Olluminate Intense Eye Repair Review

ZO Skin Health Olluminate Intense Eye Repair
ZO Skin Health Olluminate Intense Eye Repair

This product claims to strengthen skin and minimize fine lines and wrinkles by using stabilized retinol and peptides. It also claims to reduce puffiness and dark circles with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients. This also contains diffusers to highlight the eye area to reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Nylon-12 Fluorescent Brightener 230 Salt, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Caprylyl Esters, Glycerin, Glycosaminoglycans, Retinol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lecithin, Lavandula Stoechas Extract, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Carbomer, Cetearyl Glucoside, Linoleic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Mica, Polyvinylalcohol Crosspolymer, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

Just to go through some ingredients – cetearyl alcohol is used as an emolliant, thickener and carrying agent for other ingredients. Unlike denatured alcohol or ethanol, this is not drying. The nylon-12 fluorescent brightener 230 salt emits and diffuses light to reduce the appearance of skin imperfections. Glycosaminogycans is a family of carbohydrates that maintain and support collagen and elastin. Retinol is the thirteenth ingredient. I couldn’t find the actual percentage of retinol in this product. I believe my skin specialist said it was 3%; maybe 4%. Lavandula stoechas extract is lavender. While this can be an irritant to some, especially in larger amounts, it can be beneficial as an antimicrobial and helping heal skin infections. Palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 are the active ingredients in Matrixyl 3000 which mimic the skin’s broken down collagen, causing the skin to produce more collagen and elastin. Mica gives products shine. Polyvinyl alcohol crosspolymer  is polyvinyl alcohol linked with glyoxal. Looking at these ingredients separately, polyvinyl alcohol is a gel based thickener, film-forming and binding agent. According to EWG, “Glyoxal is an antimicrobial preservative that works by forming formaldehyde in cosmetic products. People exposed to such formaldehyde-releasing ingredients may develop a formaldehyde allergy or an allergy to the ingredient itself.” Glyoxal is restricted to use in cosmetics at certain concentrations. Looking at these ingredients together as they are, I couldn’t find any warnings, but using a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient on my skin, by my eyes, makes me a little worried. Phenoxyethanol worries some people. It is used as a preservative as alternative to parabens. In high concentrations it can be everything from an allergen, skin irritant (even at low doses), damaging to the brain and nervous system and a carcinogen. In skincare this is generally used at 0.5-1% concentration.

As for how it worked for me – My eyes are pretty good for my age I have been told. Unfortunately, I didn’t take before and after pictures. I have a couple fine lines on the lower lids, no crow’s feet, but I do have dark circles. This eye cream felt nice to apply, thicker than some eye creams I’ve seen, but went on smoothly and absorbed nicely. I used this on my lower lids, my upper lids and to the brow bone. Hours later I still felt the eye cream on my eyelids with my fingers. It wasn’t an annoying feeling though and it didn’t feel heavy on my eyelids; they felt moisturized. The fine lines on my lower lids were reduced, not gone, and after applying, my eyes did appear brighter. It also probably helped prevent further fine lines to my eyelids. I thought a retinol product might be irritating so close to the eyes, but it wasn’t. I’m a couple weeks  away from finishing this product and likely won’t buy it again. While it does have some good repairing and active ingredients including retinol, Matrixyl 3000 and glycosaminogycans, some ingredients I could do without. I have seen other retinol eye creams with better ingredients that are less expensive. This product comes in a jar and it can be difficult to keep bacteria out of a jar. After I’m done with this eye cream, I will be moving onto Your Best Face Correct from YBF Skincare.

Obagi Nu-Derm Review – Before and After

The Obagi Nu-Derm system for normal/oily skin consists of eight products:

  • Foaming Gel
  • Toner
  • Clear
  • Exfoderm Forte
  • Blender
  • Retin-A (not included) (used with Blender – prescription required)
  • Hydrate
  • Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50

After a consultation through Fresh Laser Skin Studio I went on the Obagi Nu-Derm system for normal to oily skin for about 4 months to help with fine lines on my forehead, hyperpigmentation (freckles) from sun damage and scarring and red spots from previous acne. I purchased the travel size which was enough for about 4 months. This system should be used under the direction of a specialist. While using this system I had followups with Fresh Laser about once a month to make sure things were working and the skin wasn’t being over-irritated and to ask any questions (of course, I was welcome to call and ask questions anytime).

  • Step 1 – Foaming Gel: A pink gel cleanser that lathers up on application to remove makeup, impurities and oil and to prepare skin for the next step. To be used morning and night, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 2 – Toner: This removes remaining makeup and balances the pH of the skin. It has skin calming ingredients including aloe vera, witch hazel and sage. It includes fragrance and artificial color and is alcohol-free. To be used morning and night.
  • Step 3 – Clear: This is a prescription strength skin lightening product that contains 4% hydroquinone that is very effective in for skin discolorations and hyperpigmentaton. Hydroquinone should not be used for more than 4 or 5 months at a time. To be used morning and evening, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 4 – Exfoderme Forte: This is an exfoliating lotion using glycolic acid and lactic acid, two alpha hydroxy acids that brighten dull skin and help remove wrinkles by removing dead skin cells and other debris. To be used in the morning, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 5 – Blender and Retin-A: The Blender is formulated to be used with Retin-A. Taking a pea-sized amount of each, these are blended together and put on the skin at night, used to reduce hyperpigmentation and wrinkles and smooth the skin’s texture.
  • Step 6 – Hydrate: A moisturizer used morning and night. As the purpose of my Obagi Nu-Derm use was to exfoliate and peel and I didn’t want to inhibit that, I didn’t use this product. I was told that if the peeling skin from the other products was irritating or if I was going out and had skin “peelies” I didn’t visible, I was to use the Hydrate.
  • Step 7: Sun Shield Matte – To be used during the day as a sunscreen lotion. As I didn’t want extra moisture to inhibit the exfoliating and peeling, I didn’t use this, but opted for a powder sun protection from Colorescience.

This is a system that should be followed by a professional. These are strong, prescription strength products that promote exfoliation and peeling to reveal clearer new skin. Sun protection is a must with this system, as the AHAs and Retin-A make the skin more sensitive to the sun.

I was amazed by the results I got by using this system:

obagi system
Before and After Obagi Nu-Derm (courtesy of Fresh Laser Skin Studio)

You can see from the photos that the hyperpigmentation was reduced and the skin looks clearer and smoother. I don’t have a photo of my forehead, but I had many fine lines and after the 4 months, they were gone. I still have some deeper acne scars on the right side of my lower face that were reduced, but didn’t disappear. I still have a deeper fine line between the eyebrows that faded a bit, but didn’t disappear. The pores on and around my nose seemed smaller and less noticeable.

I think what really helped my skin from this line was the Clear, the Exfoderme and the Blender/Retin-A combination. I imagine one could find a different (better) cleanser and toner and get similar results.

While using this system I learned about my skin; oily skin needs help to exfoliate, I need ingredients in skincare to help do that (alpha hydroxy acids), Retin-A is proven to reduce wrinkles and acne and result in a smooth complexion. I also learned to listen to my skin; if it was being irritated or became red, I would reduce the Exfoderme or Retin-A to every three days or every other day, then work back up to once a day. I was previously using way too much product on my skin; I would use a dime-sized amount of a product when all I needed was a pea-sized amount, for example. My skin is oily and only needs a light moisturizer.

This system really worked to reduce fine lines, breakouts and the hyperpigmentation. My skin was clearer and smoother and looked better than it had in years. That said, it was pretty expensive and some of the ingredients are less than great. Some of the products contain silicones, parabens, color and fragrance. This is a very exfoliation-intensive program, but the products contain ingredients to lessen redness and and inflammation that might otherwise be caused by the products. As mentioned, this system works, just listen to your skin and use sunscreen.

After using this system I maintained my skin on the therapeutic line by Dr. Zein Obagi called ZO Medical.

*featured image from Obagi.com